Apartment building gets TPZ approval
FAIRFIELD — An apartment building that includes nine “affordable” units was unanimously, if begrudgingly, approved by the Town Plan and Zoning Commission.
Harbour Townhouses is a 29-unit development at the corner of Black Rock Turnpike and Moritz Place. The three-story building will have 14 studio units and 15 one-bedroom units.
“I’m not happy about the fact a builder in Fairfield is doing this to his neighbors in Fairfield,” Vice Chairman Gerry Alessi said at a meeting Tuesday, Jan. 10. “It’s not fair. There’s a house right next door that’s going to be looking at a 30-foot tall building. Those people never intended to have this next to them, and they shouldn’t, but under 8-30g, I don’t think this commission has any options.”
The 8-30g state statute allows developers to ignore underlying local zoning regulations to construct denser projects so long as a required number of units are set aside as affordable. The TPZ has the burden of showing a proposal creates a threat to health and safety that outweighs the need for affordable housing should they deny an 8-30g application.
“To me, this building is too big for the property,” Alessi said. But, he said, he could see nothing in the record that would rise to the level of a health or safety threat. “I’m not happy about it, I don’t like it. But under the 8-30g application, this is what Hartford has us doing.”
Chairman Matthew Wagner agreed. “This is a difficult application,” he said. “I don’t think any of my fellow commissioners are enthusiastic about having to approve this.”
Wagner proposed some conditions, accepted by the other commissioners, for the project, including curbing and signs to ensure that drivers would not be able to make a left turn out of the development onto Black Rock Turnpike. Other conditions include additional trees in the parking lot and an 8-foot fence should neighbors want it, as well as an application to the state, to install a pedestrian phase in the Black Rock Turnpike traffic signals.
Wagner said it may be outside their authority to add the pedestrian phase application to the state, but said, “Given the fact the applicant is a Fairfield resident, they should be receptive to these requirements, even if we don’t have the authority to do so.”
“I hope it’s becoming clear to all the members of the public who are here, the pains that we went through in considering this application and studying the record, and the law,” Wagner said.
Wagner said the applicant could take out an appeal on the conditions. “I am urging the applicant not to do that,” he said.